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In this week's Art Seen, James Dignan looks at exhibitions from Marilynn Webb, Pauline Bellamy, and Clive Barker.
''2018 Pastels'', Marilynn Webb (Gallery De Novo)
It's hard to avoid the works of Marilynn Webb while looking around Dunedin galleries at the moment. With works on display at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, Inge Doesburg Gallery and Gallery De Novo, it seems that it is the time to celebrate the career of one of Dunedin's foremost visual artists.
The exhibition of Webb's work at De Novo includes both new pieces and earlier works, though the emphasis is on a new series of pastel pieces, ''Going through Fiordland''. These works are fine, mature examples of the artist's more realistic landscape style.
Working with a strong restricted palette of blues, golds, and greys, the artist depicts a crystallised land, with solid towering mountains scored with bright lattice-like surfaces under a shifting, mottled covering of cloud. Nearby hillsides share some of this softer mottled effect, to produce a land which is multifaceted, created from both hard stone and softer vegetation. The effect of the works is dramatic, with the steep-sided fiords simultaneously realistic in form yet reduced to bold icons. The powerful skies create an effective counterpoint to these forms, the strong lines of cloud adding a sense of monumental scale and depth to the images.
''Drawn To Music'', Pauline Bellamy (Bellamys Gallery)
The Fringe Festival has produced a number of interesting exhibitions around town, among them ''Drawn to Music'', a group of themed works by Pauline Bellamy at Bellamy's Gallery. The works, in a variety of media, feature musicians in the act of creation.
The opening of the exhibition was accompanied by a concert by Nick Knox and Bethany Robertson, who performed alongside attractive etched portraits of the two performing.
Within the exhibition there are several connected series of works; among them a fine series of etchings of pipe bands, and a series of dynamic works produced during and after a Leonard Cohen concert. A highlight of these latter pieces is a small oil painting featuring Cohen lit by a powerful spotlight, the figure reduced to a dark form edged in light, topped by the singer's trademark hat.
Another stand-out work in the exhibition is a beautiful etched triptych featuring musicians performing a violin concerto. Nearby is a work which is an interesting new direction for Bellamy, a mixed-media piece in ink and watercolour featuring violinists in dramatic action. Unlike many of the artist's images, here, the rhythm and dynamism overwhelm the representational elements, producing a work with the focus on movement.
''On the Fringe - a Collection of Drawings'' (Gallery Fe29)
Fe29 is also presenting a Fringe exhibition, with a group show featuring three artists specialising in drawing: Marion Beaupere, Clive Barker and Peter Bradburn.
Young French artist Marion Beaupere has produced a series of intricate images similar to those from her 2016 Fe29 exhibition. With an obsessiveness of detail and a strong compositional sense, the artist has created works where human figures, skulls and amorphous forms are surrounded by hypnotic geometries. The works are fascinating, and reveal more detail with every viewing.
Peter Bradburn is a poet, musician, and artist. His images are brutally bold, with a mix of abstraction and pictorialism reminiscent of mid-20th century schools of art, such as CoBrA. His works, all untitled, range from vividly coloured images featuring seemingly malevolent seahorse-like figures through to an effective white-on-white impastoed cruciform work.
Multimedia artist Clive Barker is perhaps better known as a novelist and screenwriter. His worlds, literary and pictorial, are dark, and inhabited by a sinister coterie of characters, which reflect not only the hyperreal world of his writing, but also some inner depths which lurk within artist and viewer alike. In his art, these emerge as strong figures with influences ranging from comic-book art to symbolist-tinged primitivism.